5 Things to Do In Montreal to Spice Up Your Holiday

Best Things to Do In Montreal

Montreal, the second-largest city in Quebec, is bilingual and set on the island of Montreal, across the St Laurent River.

Its rich past still reflects in its architecture, museums, and gastronomic diversity.

What are 5 things to do in Montreal to have a great holiday? Here we look at a few options for everyone’s taste.

1. Explore Old Montreal and Underground city

The city is a real mix, from the heritage from the 18th Century, with cobblestones lanes to modern skyscrapers.

Walk around Old Montreal’s stunning architecture

Visit Old Montreal
Old Montreal

Old Montreal is a perfect neighborhood to explore on foot:

  • Visitors can easily explore quaint streets with greystone buildings around St Paul Street. Buildings here date back to the 19th Century. After renovation, they are now bustling with craft shops, designer clothes stores, and art galleries. You can also admire Notre-Dame-du-Bon secours, a chapel located at the eastern end of St Paul Street.
  • Feeling hungry? You will find restaurants and bars all along this area and if you decide to stay longer in the area you can also party the night away in chansonnier bars or jazz clubs.
  • De La Commune Street is another lively street with old buildings. It follows the St Laurent shore between the farmers’ market and the Montreal Museum of Archaeology and History. From there, guests have an opportunity to explore the vibrant Old Port of Montreal’s area, with a romantic waterfront, riverside strolls, and even spas.
  • Expect to walk a lot: streets in Montreal are famous for their length. The legendary Sainte Catherine Street is 11 kilometers long.

Dine & shop in the Underground city

With harsh winters, Montreal has its own extensive underground city.

There are more than 30 kilometers of pedestrian networks, linking metro stations, and full of shops and entertainment spots.

Along cinemas and shopping plazas, there are also underground interior fountains, for example in Complexe Desjardins, underneath Place des Festivals.

The Underground city also presents hundreds of restaurants to choose from, with food halls, Montreal bagels stands or even Korean foods.

For more entertainment options, there are art museums and festivals, such as the Montreal contemporary art museum (Musée d’Art Contemporain de Montréal) or the Art Souterrain Festival.

Did You Know? What do you call people living in Montreal? They are Montrealers!

2. Visit Jean-Talon Food Market in Little Italy

Montreal has several mouth-watering food markets.

Jean-Talon Food Market in Little Italy
Jean-Talon Food Market

Depending on your location in the city, you may want to explore one or the other. Jean-Talon Market is one of the oldest public markets.

  • Opening times: from 8 am to 6 pm daily, opened on Sunday from 8 am to 5 pm
  • Location: 7070 Henri-Julien Avenue, Montréal, Corner of Henri-Julien and Jean-Talon

Located in the heart of Little Italy, it dates back to 1933 when its name was still Marché du Nord.

It is convenient to reach by metro or bus.

  • Its atmosphere is family-friendly, much like a local village, where one can find fruits, vegetables, bread, or fish.
  • It is also a premium location for locally made products and local specialties.

Tip – In the summertime the market is a pedestrian zone, from 11 am to 5 pm. Even bicycles need to be parked outside the market zone.

3. Leonard Cohen

The singer Leonard Cohen (1934-2016) spent his formative years here in Montreal and as a return home during his life.

For many of his fans, the French Canadian city is a must-see, almost a pilgrimage.

Places in Montreal resonate and echo from his songs.


5 Things to Do In Montreal to Spice Up Your Holiday #montreal

♬ original sound – Travelspock – Travelspock

His last Montreal home

Located opposite Park Portugal, it is still a private home, and not a museum, just like his house in Hydra, Greece.

However, fans often leave tributes, such as flowers, notes, or small stones.

Where? 28 Rue Vallières, Montreal

Leonard Cohen’s murals

There are two major murals worth seeing if you happen to be in Montreal.

  • Crescent Street mural: the mural covers an entire skyscraper’s wall and is lit up at night since 2019. Created by Gen Pendon and El Mac, it covers 1000 square meters.
  • Napoleon Street, not far from Cohen’s home, was created during the Montreal Mural Fest. It is not as large as Crescent Street’s one, but it is a landmark for any Cohen’s fans.

Leonard Cohen’s grave

After he passed away in 2016, the singer’s grave location became another modest and simple landmark in Montreal.

It is located in Mont-Royal, in Shaar Hashomayim Congregation Cemetery.

4. Taste some of the best food in the world

Montreal is a foodie paradise, with an ample choice of cuisines and take-out foods.

Often labeled by visitors as a ‘city with the best foods in the world’, Montreal will make it difficult for you to choose which dish to taste.


Could any visitor ignore Montreal or Quebec seafood?

Prince Edward's Island seafood
Prince Edward’s Island

Montreal gets its fresh seafood from Prince Edward’s Island, in Quebec, but also from the Great Lakes. It ranges from lobster to oysters, crabs, and mollusks.

If you are visiting for longer, you can shop at La Mer Fishmongers. However, even if you are on a short holiday break in Montreal, a seafood diner is one of the things to do here.

There is an ample choice of seafood restaurants, in particular in the Old Montreal, such as “Le Filet”.


These are typical delicacies, unique to Montreal.

  • Montreal-style bagel: it really contrasts with New-York bagels, as it is a handmade wood-fire baked bagel. The whole is larger than in a NY bagel, and it may taste sweeter to specialists.
  • Poutine: named the most iconic dish from Montreal, but also Quebec region.

The combination of fried potatoes, gravy, and cheese is filling and delicious.

There is even a ‘Poutine festival’ in February in the city.

Nowadays – There are interpretations of the dish all over the city, including one called “Foie gras poutine” mixing all traditional ingredients with a touch of French paté.

Where to try it?

  • Regular Poutine: at “Poutineville, the local fast food chain, with multiple locations around Montreal. They offer choices of gravy and different kinds of fries or meats to choose from, including one with mozzarella and braised beef.
  • Foie gras poutine: at “Le Pied de Cochon” a French cuisine establishment in Mont-Royal Plateau.
  • Delicatessen: Smoked meat sandwiches on Boulevard St Laurent.

For example, you can taste them at the Schawrtz Deli, one of Cohen’s favorites meat sandwich places, near his home.  

For those with a sweet tooth

Montrealers love sweets as much as they love Poutine.

There are plenty of places to explore for foodies with a sweet tooth.

Some sweets still have their origin in French traditional cuisine:

  • Doughnuts: visitors can taste many flavors, including lemon doughnuts.
  • Ice creams are the best for hot Montreal summer days.
  • Traditional bakeries: there are plenty serving traditional French cakes such as Kouin-Amann, or Cannelé.
  • Candy stores

5. Check out the urban art

Aside from the Leonard Cohen’s Murals, there is a vibrant urban art scene in Montreal.

Walking around Montreal
Montreal walk

Street art is part of Montreal, and encouraged but the local authorities for the last 60 years as part of its multicultural vibe.

Below are a few spots to admire urban arts, among the recent 3500 murals so far.


The Mural Event Festival

Emerging and well-known street artists from around the world join the Mural Art Festival Launched in 2012 the festival lasts eleven days in June, with live art, music events, exhibitions, workshops, and artists’ interviews.

Thanks to the mural festival, Montreal is now the ultimate destination for contemporary urban art.

Fun Fact – The mural market happening during the festival also gives crafts designers a chance to meet the public and to discuss their creations.

The last edition brought together artists such as:

  • Awie (Montreal-born artist)
  • Aliendope (French artist)
  • Drew Young (from LA)
  • Of course, Kevin Ledo was also present.

Famous mural artists in Montreal

  • Kevin Ledo: he creates mostly large portraits, including Leonard Cohen’s one.
  • Michael Reeder
  • Uneeded voices: a group of Native American artists describing racial issues

Where to see most street art around Montreal?

  • Saint-Laurent Boulevard: a long road with pop-up murals spread across 7 miles.
  • The side streets between Sherbrooke Street and Mont-Royal Avenue have several striking murals. You could walk, for example, to Jeanne-Mance Street or Saint-Viateur Street and find street art from Ola Volo, Curiot, or Pixel Pancho.

Final thoughts

Montreal is a historical and cosmopolitan city, with things to do all year round, for solo travelers but also for a family with kids.

From its old town quarters to the Underground city, visitors will only wonder when they can come back, and experience more.

In which season would you prefer to visit Montreal? Don’t forget to look at the best places to stay in Montreal.

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